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Cognitive Linguistics

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Quantitative measures of subjectification: A variationist study of Spanish salir(se)

Jessi Elana Aaron / Rena Torres Cacoullos

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics. Volume 16, Issue 4, Pages 607–633, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: 10.1515/cogl.2005.16.4.607, December 2005

Publication History:
Published Online:
2005-12-02

Abstract

By confronting variable use, the variationist method can reveal patterns of subjectification of grammatical morphemes. Applying this method to the analysis of salir(se)  ‘go out’ variation in Mexican Spanish oral data, we conclude that subjectification is manifested structurally in the tendency for middle-marked salirse  to co-occur with first-person singular or referents close to the speaker, positive polarity and the past tense. Further comparative dialectal and diachronic data indicate the origins of the se -marked form in physical spatial deviation. Usage of the form then extends to situations that denote deviation from social norms. We thus propose that the locus of subjectification of this counter-expectation marker is an increasingly speaker-based construal of expectation. This semantic change appears to proceed via absorption of contextual meaning in the frequently occurring + de  ‘from’ construction.

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